An exhibit featuring the work of African-American folk artist Clementine Hunter (1886-1988) will be on display at the South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC) in El Dorado from September 5 -October 31. According to a news release sent by the SAAC, the Museum of American Folk Art in Washington, D.C. called Hunter “the most celebrated of all Southern contemporary painters.”
Hunter, a self taught painter from in Louisiana, is famous for her paintings of plantation life. When she was in her teens, her family moved to Melrose Plantation ( outside of Natchitoches, Louisiana) where her parents were employed. Hunter, who never learned to read or write, started painting late in life, in her 50s. A French writer named Francois Mignon, who lived in the artist colony at Melrose, encouraged Hunter in her artistic endeavors by setting up exhibits for her and promoting her work. They become life-long friends and are even both buried near each other at St. Augustine Cemetery in Cane River , Louisiana.
Hunter’s work, she created around 5,000 paintings in her lifetime, has appeared in galleries, museums, and private collections across the nation. One such private collection is what visitors to the SAAC will get to see. This collection includes one of the most comprehensive displays of Hunter’s work to date. According to a press release sent by the SAAC, the exhibit is “ curated by Tom Whitehead, a personal friend and co-author of two books on Hunter’s life and artwork. “Clementine Hunter: The Nolan Collections” is one of the largest exhibitions ever amassed of Hunter’s work and features rarely seen works from the private collections of the Nolan family from Cherokee, Mrs. Theodosia Nolan’s beloved plantation home outside of Natchitoches, Louisiana, and their El Dorado homes.”
Mr. Whitehead will open SAAC’s exhibition with a reception on Friday, September 5, from 6-8pm. Both this and the exhibition are sponsored by the family of Theodosia Nolan. For more information on the exhibit contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit their website at www.saac-arts.com.